Up, Up, and Away

To celebrate the Flyer’s 25th year, we’ll be using this space each week to look back on stories from past issues.

May 01, 2014

With the Memphis In May Beale Street Music Festival once again upon us, we take a look back to the 1999 Best of Memphis issue, which featured a staff pick on one memorable music fest appearance:

"Best Performance R&B artist Lois Lane is all-woman and then some. She threw out all kinds of moxie at this year's Memphis In May Beale Street Music Festival. Thrilling the nearly all-white crowd with her gyrating and forcefully lewd performance, she kicked up the fun when she invited a few members of the audience to get onstage with her to dance. Among those was a young man who couldn't resist spanking himself. Such is the superpower of Lois Lane."

But this was not the first appearance by Lane in the Flyer, nor the last. Lane was at the center of a true-blue Memphis phenomenon, which began in 1997 at Bill's Twilight. Groups of folks would crowd the dance floor to perform a line dance/slide hybrid to an electronic jangle of a tune that featured a riff from Booker T. & the MGs' "Chinese Checkers."

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Lane's friend Mixx Master Lee convinced her to write some lyrics for that number, which they reintroduced at Bill's. Then things went nuts.

The Bar-Kays' James Alexander founded JEA Music to release the single, which sold 40,000 copies and was played in regular rotation on radio station K97. An album was the next obvious step, and Lane worked with Al Kapone to write songs for The Adventures of Lois Lane.

Lois Lane, of course, was not the singer/rapper's real name. She said her audacious onstage persona was something she adopted as well. Lane was booked for appearances most nights of the week, and she quit her day job because being Lois Lane was her job. Her upward projection continued when Alexander helped her get a deal with Sony.

A May 5, 2000, cover story details what happened next: "It was an exciting time for Lane. Sony flew her and her sister to New York City to talk specifics. She would do a video, and she would become 'Miss Lane' to avoid any conflict with the D.C. comics character. She ate at Puff Daddy's restaurant, she shopped, and she saw Carnegie Hall.

"Then they flew her to Los Angeles for a photo shoot. 'I had a daytime look of Lois Lane and the evening look. I was like the caped crusader or something,' she says, explaining that part of her act would be her transformation from the daytime to the nighttime Lane. They put wigs on her and covered her in baby powder so she could get into rubber outfits. They even convinced a non-short-skirt-wearing Lane that she could show the leg and wear six-inch spike-heeled, thigh-high boots. 'I'm going to stand up straight,' she remembers thinking, 'because if I bend over, I'll be mooning everybody.'

"Of course, she loved all the pampering. 'I felt so good. I felt like a star, you know?'

"Lane returned to Memphis, and Sony sent a choreographer to work with her. Tryouts were held for dancers, who were not only required to dance well but to be able to morph from daytime to nighttime as the new Miss Lane would. And then nothing."

Sony dropped Lane, and the cover story concludes with Lane contemplating her next step. What's become of Lane is unknown. Alexander says that The Adventures of Lois Lane was the first and last album that she recorded for him.

"She went Hollywood on me," Alexander explains. "I had to move on."

Alexander says he keeps up with almost everybody he's worked with. He says he spoke to Lee, who now lives in Nashville, about a month ago. He says he has no idea what's become of Lane. He's certain that she's no longer performing.

Says Alexander, "She had the makings of a real big star."

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